In Texas, prosecutors often offer first time defendants deferred adjudication in exchange for a “guilty” plea. Deferred adjudication means that the judgment on the charges is postponed or deferred and then the defendant is placed on probation for a period of time. When that period is over and if the conditions of the probation are successfully met, the charges are then dismissed by the Judge.
Many people falsely believe that once they have completed their deferred adjudication they will no longer have a criminal record. In truth, while your record will not show a criminal conviction, a record of your arrest and the court action will remain available for public view in a background check or investigation. In order to truly clear your record following a deferred adjudication, you need an Order of Non-Disclosure signed by the Judge.
Non-Disclosure is very different than expunging. An Expungement order requires the destruction of all references and records of the person’s case from public records. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) must also request any federal repository to return any copies to the DPS who then destroys them. The actual court record ordering the Expungement is itself destroyed 60 days to one (1) year after issuance of the order.
A Non-Disclosure requires the DPS to send a copy of the Non-Disclosure order to all law enforcement agencies, jails, and other entities that are typically given a copy of these types of activities. The places that are sent the Non-Disclosure order are then ordered to seal the records, but not to destroy them. Also, these facilities cannot disclose the offense, but must retain the records. The person’s prior criminal record can be used against the person in a subsequent prosecution.
A person’s case is eligible for only one of these two services. Whether an order of Non-Disclosure or expunction is the eligible service is based on the “sentence” given for that case or lack thereof. A person who has an attorney for his or her case should ask the lawyer to make sure the expunging or Non-Disclosure action is done properly and completely the first time. This will minimize any possible delay that could take months or even a rejection by the court. If there is a delay, the lawyer can also write letters or provide copies of the filed documents to the person’s potential employer to let the employer know that the case has been re-opened for Expungement or Non-Disclosure and that their record will soon be cleared.
Obtaining an Order of Non-Disclosure is commonly referred to as sealing your record. When your record is sealed, only those who are authorized by state or federal statute to view your record may do so. This means that Non-Disclosers can still be …Although most employers will not have access to the information. Additionally, with a Non-Disclosure action, the record is not destroyed, however, with an Expungement the records are. Non-Disclosures can still be accessed by certain government agencies, and it can still be used against you in a court of law.
While many charges are eligible for Non-Disclosure, there are some felony charges that can never be sealed. Additionally, you can only seal your most recent deferred adjudication, so it’s important to seek an Order of Non-Disclosure as soon as possible. With most misdemeanors there is not a waiting period before you can seal the record. There are certain misdemeanors that you must wait two (2) years after successfully completing your probation before the record can be sealed. With felonies, however, there usually is a five year (5) waiting period before you can apply for a Non-Disclosure.
If you have successfully completed a deferred adjudication and would like to seal your record, then call our office today and schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We can answer all of your questions and start the process today toward clearing your good name from the criminal records.
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